Nearly 90 percent of respondents to this week’s RBJ Daily Report Snap Poll say the Rochester-area economy still is in recession. This is a more pessimistic view than readers voiced last summer, when 63 percent said the area economy had yet to start its recovery.
The government last week released jobs data for July that sent mixed signals about the area’s economy, with year-over-year job losses but an improvement in the jobless rate.
The Rochester metro unemployment rate was 7.8 percent last month, up from 7.5 percent in June but down from 8.2 percent a year ago.
A plurality of respondents—41 percent—reported a salary freeze during the last year. This is slightly fewer than the 45 percent whose salaries had been frozen a year ago.
Nearly one-third have experienced a benefit reduction, and 10 percent say they have been laid off. Seven percent have been furloughed, and 6 percent report being unemployed.
Looking ahead over the next year, more than half are optimistic about their job situation, compared with 45 percent who are pessimistic. When the same question was asked last summer, two-thirds reported being optimistic.
Nearly 540 readers participated in this week’s poll, which was conducted Aug. 23 and 24.
In your view, has the recession ended for the Rochester-area economy?
Over the previous 12 months, which of the following have you personally experienced?
Salary freeze: 41%
Benefit reduction: 31%
Unemployment (entire 12 months): 6%
Retired/not employed by choice: 6%
None of the above: 33%
Looking ahead over the next 12 months, are you optimistic or pessimistic about your job situation?
The buck stops at the top, and I have not been happy with my results, so I’m going to have to let me go. Unfortunately, I am not allowed to collect the unemployment insurance I pay on my own salary. I may run for office so I can vote myself some of your money.
—Bill Lanigan, Chamberlin Rubber
The economy will not recover until the crushing government burden of high taxes and regulation are reduced. Both the federal and state politicians are continuing to pile on more. There is not enough profit left to invest in growth. The golden eggs have stopped coming and now they’re killing the goose.
I have too many highly qualified unemployed friends and know way too many grossly underemployed people to believe the recession is over. From my perspective, it will be years before we recover from this recession.
—Bill Wyatt, Fairport
The Rochester Region is an economic oasis in Upstate New York. We are blessed with many high-tech industries including but not limited to printing/graphics/digital imaging, tool and die, photonics and other. Unfortunately, local and state government have been hijacked by the public unions and other special interests at the expense of the taxpayers. In addition, the current Obama administration and Congress is using flawed Keynesian economic policy, which will continue the economic malaise. These factors will prolong the recession.
—John Rynne, president, Rynne, Murphy & Associates, Inc.
Is the recession over? Are you kidding me? It has been ongoing since Fisher ran Kodak. Really people? Are your memories that short? This area has been spiraling in the toilet since the early ‘90s, and with as wacked out as this state is, what business would want to move here unless they give you huge incentives to do it. No matter how much you make you just pay, pay and pay.
—Jim Duke, Victor
Cut taxes and create good jobs that are badly needed. I shut my business down, I can’t collect unemployment. My employees did. Why don’t they GET IT?
With both Xerox and Kodak racing to be the smallest of the major employers in the area, one can hardly believe that the local "recession" is over. Until these and other major companies once again start innovating and leading in their markets, we will continue to see decline in the area.
—Dave Coriale, Webster
Stop extending the unemployment. Stimulus packages should not be just roads and highways, it should be to save houses and the people in them even old broken ones. We’re going the wrong way with the banks, too. Never bail out a bank!
The recession is still here as evidenced by the reduced number of players on public golf courses. We’ll see a minor spurt as kids buy school supplies and new clothing for school. There’s also a great market in used cars.
—Daniel Mossien, architect
With unemployment at an all-time high; small business struggling with cost increases; health insurance going up a notable 8 percent to 40 percent; and our elderly population having to decide between medical coverage, medication or food, how can anyone think we are out of the recession or that it is anywhere near over? Maybe I am just more aware of these things now—maybe it’s time for me to run for office. I would not want to be in their shoes come election time.
With taxes, fees, insurance rates and food prices on the rise, wages stagnant and very little cash flow in the upstate economy, I would say things are pretty much status quo. The upstate economy does not "recover" from recessions; it just levels out at a LOWER level than its previous level. We don’t seem to gain anything; we just stop the bleeding until the next recession comes around. It has been that way since the ‘70s. No new industry, service jobs that don’t provide service (anyone tried to get service lately?), and management that cannot see the ill of its "poor skill-set" ways but continues extract penance for poor profits from its work force instead of looking in the mirror. The sad part is that so many of our elected officials have sat idly by and blamed each other while the losses mount, the costs increase and the population struggles. Isn’t it about time to oust all incumbents at the state level and start over? Really, folks, how much more troublesome can it become?
I think the local economy is in "sleep mode." We may have a lower unemployment percentage than the national average, but that should bring little comfort. We have some large corporations that are continuing to experience quarterly losses and with those losses come further unemployment. And, many of those that became unemployed in this area are professionals (engineers, etc.) who have left the area. Look at the overall population decline here, not just at unemployment. And, look also at the increase in taxes and fees. As long as New York is as unfriendly as it is to business, we will continue to slide ever farther into the abyss.
There is no confusion related to the "mixed signals" coming out of the U.S. Jobs Data for Rochester area. The reason that the unemployment rate is down while job losses are up is that people are continuing to leave the Rochester area at an alarming rate. Why? Taxes! The difference between taxes in Upstate NY and almost anywhere else in the country is enough to significantly upgrade the lifestyle. Those who can leave, will, further draining the talent pool and continuing the death spiral.
—Joe Fabetes, Rochester
Nonexistent or minuscule job growth, arduous regulation, and lots more taxes and fees. A recipe for fiscal disaster for this state. Spending has got to cut significantly. We have to create an environment friendly for business to attract them to this state. We are failing miserably.
We will never get back to where we were, not only because "You can’t go home again" but because "the Emperor has no clothes." The economy was a house of cards built on the illusion that money can grow forever. We live on a finite planet, with finite resources and any monetary system that doesn’t recognize that will fail.
—Marjorie Campaigne, Project HOUSE/Green Irene
Rebound? Rebound? What rebound? Only in government jobs and taxes. Until New York and all other government entities realize that they have to cut spending and not raise taxes will there be a rebound. There is absolutely no confidence by anyone in business that the economy will get better if taxes and other costs (medical insurance) are allowed to increase.
— R.J. Brinkman, chairman, Brinkman International Group Inc.
I’m a small business owner, not an employee, and work on projects for other small to medium-size businesses. Local companies aren’t starting new projects, so my business is still suffering.
—Kat Nagel, owner, MasterWork Consulting
As a dentist, I have seen a fundamental change in the attitudes and perceptions of patients. Patients are more reluctant to schedule treatment, and are worried about the future. Also, retirees have seen benefits taken away, so this group is very apprehensive to treat their problems.
—John J. Lucia DDS, John J. Lucia DDS PC
The greater Monroe County area will have staggered growth, i.e. less than the national average, over the next few years. We will need a new technology innovation to grow equal to or greater than the national economy.
—Mike Bleeg, Strategic Results
With continuing year-over-year job losses, combined with last month’s 7.8 percent jobless rate, up from 7.5 percent in June, how can anyone sincerely believe that the "Great Recession" has ended anywhere? The private sector continues to lose jobs, consumers continue to cut back on spending wherever possible, and prices appear to be on the rise in some segments of the economy. A real possibility exists of a "double-dip" recession within the next few months, if decisive governmental action isn’t implemented soon.
—Ted Benjeski, Henrietta
8/27/10 (c) 2010 Rochester Business Journal. To obtain permission to reprint this article, call 585-546-8303 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.